I get calls all day long from people who are confused about what PROFINET is and what it isn’t. Here’s my top 10 list of the things I’ve heard over the last few weeks:


Misconception #10: PROFINET Does Not Play Well With The Other Networks. No, not at all. In fact, PROFINET integrates other networks better than any other network I know. It can easily accommodate DeviceNet devices, EtherNet/IP devices, PROFIBUS devices, and many others.


Misconception #9: The ERTEC Controller is Exclusively for PROFINET IRT. No, not true at all. The ERTEC 200/400 can be used as a standard Ethernet switch.


Misconception #8: I Need to Have IEEE 1588 Time Synchronization to Use PROFINET. No, not true. PROFINET IO does not use the 1588 Time Synchronization.


Misconception #7: PROFINET Doesn’t use Standard Switches. No, not true. Any Ethernet switch can be used to carry PROFINET IO traffic.


Misconception #6: PROFINET Is Incredibly Complex To Use. No, that’s not true for a user. If you know your data representation (how your data is represented to the network), it is not hard to connect a PROFINET device to a Profinet network. Now, for the automation developer integrating PROFINET into a device…well, that’s another story.


Misconception #5: PROFINET Developers Have to Use an ASIC. That’s only true if you’re doing PROFINET IRT. If you’re doing PROFINET IO, there is source code available. There are lots of challenges to it but it is available.


Misconception #4: PROFINET is only used in Europe. OK, that might be kind of true. A lot of Siemens PLCs are equipped with PROFINET and Siemens dominates Europe. But we know that a lot of machines coming to the US from Europe with Siemens PLCs will have PROFINET devices. And some US manufacturers are beginning to use PROFINET as their base network so this may change over time.


Misconception #3: PROFINET only works with Siemens Controllers. Sorry Sherlock, but that’s not true either. It is true that most PROFINET IO and IRT applications will use Siemens controllers, but you’ll shortly see PLC from Rockwell and others that can scan PROFINET IO.


Misconception #2: PROFINET IO Requires special hardware – Lots of people think this because PROFINET IRT requires an ASIC and there are a lot of vendors selling FPGA solutions. The truth is that if you have the source code, PROFINET IO can run in any Ethernet processor that supports Ethernet without any special hardware.


And now the drum roll, please….The Number 1 PROFINET Misconception is:


Misconception #1: PROFINET is just PROFIBUS on Ethernet. No, it isn’t. The truth is that the device representation is the same. Both PROFIBUS and PROFINET use network representations that rely on the Rack/Slot/Module kind of data representation. That means that all data has some sort of designation in that format but that’s where the similarity ends.

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